By

Free At Noon Flashback: Muscle Tough brings the futuristic funk to World Cafe Live

Muscle Tough | photo by Senia Lopez | senialopez.photography

Philly instrumental improv trio Muscle Tough spent the afternoon downstairs at World Cafe Live to share what was possibly the most interesting Free At Noon concert I’ve seen in a while. I went in not knowing what to expect, and left having witnessed psychedelic robo funk, super heavy guitar and drum battles, and even jokey synchronized dance moves from guitarist Ross Bellenoit and bassist Jonathan Coleman. It was entertaining all across the board, and cheers of “When I say Muscle, you say Tough!” were prevalent throughout the entire forty-five minute set, just to remind the crowd that they were awesome. Continue reading →

By

Free at Noon Flashback: Erika Wennerstrom re-introduces herself with songs from Sweet Unknown

Erika Wennerstrom | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Each of Erika Wennerstrom‘s long and winding songs has a story behind it, and at today’s Free at Noon performance the musician seemed eager to share them all. Though she may be best known as the frontwoman of Heartless Bastards, Wennerstrom is currently on tour supporting her recently-released first solo album Sweet Unknown, and stopped by World Cafe Live this afternoon to showcase the new tunes. Continue reading →

By

Free at Noon Flashback: Petal inspires the crowd to live your “life more authentically”

Petal | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

In between shows in Asbury Park last night and New York tonight, Petal found time to make a quick trip down to Philly to play today’s Free at Noon, and despite the hectic scheduling, it was evident by the look on Kiley Lotz’s face when she walked onstage that there was nowhere else the Scranton-based artist would rather be this afternoon.

The short break from their co-headlining tour with Camp Cope, which included two sold-out PhilaMOCA shows a month ago, allowed Petal to bring their new album Magic Gone back to town to further celebrate the excellent release. Whether audience members were familiar with the band prior to today’s show or not, Lotz and company seemed to win the crowd over with their warm and welcoming presence before they even played their first song. Continue reading →

By

#FreeAtNoon Flashback: Rayland Baxter celebrates his Wide Awake album release day at World Cafe Live

Rayland Baxter | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN | www.senialopez.photography

In celebration of his latest release, Wide Awake (out today via ATO Records), the Nashville-hailing alt-country star Rayland Baxter took the stage at World Cafe Live for Free At Noon. A cap pulled down over matted blonde hair, gripping a white hollow body guitar, he bounced lightly on his knees with skittish energy.

Baxter was backed by a five-piece band, including Philadelphians Nick Bockrath and Barney Cortez, and the chemistry between the band members was visible as they communicated silently through nods and physical cues, delivering an engaging and sound-tight set. As the crowd swarmed forward, they opened with “Strange American Dream,” a brightly optimistic tune with trailing piano riffs and an overt Southern twang. “Amelia Baker,” was contemplative and full of romantic longing, spliced with rambling solos. Continue reading →

By

Free At Noon Flashback: Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers remind us that our best days are still ahead of us

Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers | photo by Dylan Eddinger for WXPN | dylaneddingerphoto.squarespace.com

Steel City native Joe Grushecky joined the Free At Noon crowd today to share some new songs off his latest release, More Yesterdays Than Tomorrows, and the seasoned rocker wowed the crowd with his charismatic new tunes and incredibly joyous Houserockers band. Continue reading →

By

Free at Noon Flashback: Neko Case enchants the midday crowd at World Cafe Live

Neko Case | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN | senialopez.photography

Singer-songwriter Neko Case is known as much for her work with The New Pornographers as she is for her seven solo albums, and today enchanted a packed house at World Cafe Live upstairs for the Free at Noon concert. Backed by a six-piece band, Neko wielded a Fender Jaguar, her coppery hair veiling her face. “Easy with the cameras…If you film me I’ll forget the words,” she warned. Beyond the firm request for no cameras, the she kept the stage banter to a minimum, moving fluidly through the set.

The band opened with “Man,” a tambourine-heavy song with country vibes that sneers with attitude, the perfect pick to get the crowd stomping. “Hell-On,” the title track of Neko’s latest album, is eerie and echoing. The lyrics weave a mystical setting as if plucked from the pages of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales. “Halls of Sarah” is a wistful call in the dark, with wispy, layered vocals. “She didn’t ask to be your remake or your muse / We’re parasites inside her blues,” Neko sang, her voice toying with language, twisting vowels, sweet but never fragile. The set picked up speed toward the end, “Last Lion of Albion” the seam-splitting finale with heavy drum rolls and clanging cowbell.

Neko Case will play Festival Pier tonight, info and tickets hereContinue reading →

By

Free at Noon Flashback: Kacey Musgraves lights up the stage with her unique brand of country

Kacey Musgraves | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN | www.senialopez.photography

Later this very night, Kacey Musgraves will play on a much larger stage to a much larger crowd. But this afternoon, the rising country star was more than content to bring things down a notch and play a soft, intimate set to a crowd brimming with enthusiasm.

Before today’s performance even began, as a line of eager audience members filled the World Cafe Live stairs and spilled out the door, it became clear that this would not be your average Free at Noon. And if you were lucky enough to score a spot at today’s sold-out show, you had the rare chance to see Kacey Musgraves on what may just be the smallest stage you’ll ever see her. But even though the Texas native is accustomed to playing bigger shows these days — especially on her current arena tour with Harry Styles, which makes a stop at the Wells Fargo Center tonight — she seemed downright thrilled by venue’s homey feel and awestruck crowd.

Continue reading →

By

Free at Noon Flashback: Natalie Prass fuses neo-soul and power pop for a stripped down set

Natalie Prass | photo by Dylan Eddinger | dylaneddingerphoto.squarespace.com

Decked out in a sparkling yellow ensemble and backed by a full band, Natalie Prass performed songs from her new album The Future And The Past as well as some older songs. Prass opened with “The Fire,” a song that shows off her unique blend of neo-soul and power pop. Her music is full of infectious rhythms and on-a-dime key changes, expertly handled with her signature soprano. She mentioned the lack of their touring keyboardist, resulting in a more stripped-down set, but still perfectly and polished and executed with style. Continue reading →

By

Free at Noon Flashback: Ruen Brothers debuts All My Shades of Blue at World Cafe Live

Ruen Brothers | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN | www.senialopez.photography

The weekend kicked off with a Free At Noon set from The Ruen Brothers, siblings Henry and Rupert Stansall out of Scunthorpe, England. The brothers wore matching bolo ties over button up shirts, crossing midwestern cowboy with 60’s greaser. Their music is nostalgic rockabilly, twanging with grit. The brothers shared a mic, trading harmonies with faces at kissing distance. Colin, who Henry dubbed their “third brother from Detroit,” played drums, pausing between songs to adjust his black plastic eyeglasses. Continue reading →

By

Free at Noon Flashback: Greg Sover is charismatic and commanding at World Cafe Live

Greg Sover | photo by Dylan Eddinger | dylaneddingerphoto.squarespace.com

Today’s Free at Noon thundered in with the powerful music of the blues/rock Greg Sover Band. Taking to the stage donning his signature steampunk jacket and flashing a charismatic smile, Sover shook any lingering lethargy from those in the audience in a contagious, energetic performance with his band. The crowd swayed and rocked while shifting psychedelic patterns were projected overhead. The magnetic Sover established an immediate rapport with the crowd, joking in between songs and taking a moment to thank WXPN’s Helen Leicht for spinning their tracks since the beginning. Continue reading →